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Motivating Your Affiliates

It’s another Expert Briefs, where I ask really smart business owners to answer your burning questions.

If you've missed past Expert Briefs, you can click on the undies to see them all –>

I ran a really successful affiliate contest last month and it's got me thinking about motivating affiliates. So, on that note, this week I asked our panel of experts this question …

What's your best tip for getting
your affiliates to actively promote you?

I think you'll find the answers this week interesting and hopefully helpful in improving your affiliate program.

Jeanette S. Cates, PhD of says:

About once a year I like to run a 100% commission One Dollar promotion. That means that if an affiliate is paying attention at all, they'll promote it to someone!

And in turn – they'll get a payout in their PayPal account (I set my payment threshold that month to $1). For some, it's the first dollar they've made online. For others, it's a wake-up call (Hey, she DOES pay commissions – when I promote!)

All in all it's a lot of fun for all of us. And it gives me a great excuse to get more affiliates involved.

Tawnya Sutherland of says:

What's my best tip for getting affiliates to promote me?

Well, with my super affiliates, it is basically jumping on the phone with them one-on-one and putting together a marketing campaign to push out a product to help them easily make money. I'll provide them with all the sales copy, blog posts, email blasts and tweets. I find the easier I make it for them the more likely they are to promote my products for Virtual Assistants.

As for my other affiliates, I have set up a website with tutorials on everything from how to do redirect to tips and strategies in affiliate marketing. Educating people who are newer to affiliate marketing helps these people eventually become super affiliates for me too. I also supply all the sales tools they need to make it easy for them to promote my products.

Keeping in touch bi-weekly or monthly, giving them a chance to promote the product before I do also encourages them to get out there and tell the world about my products.

Making it simple and easy to promote my products for my affiliates is my ultimate goal.

Rachel Rofe of replied with this video:

Mark Mason of says:

This week, I would like to come at this from a little different perspective — the perspective of the affiliate. After all, what better way is there to understand how to motivate affiliates that to try and see things from their point of view?

Here are the top four things that are valuable to me as an affiliate and really motivate to promote an offer:

1. A quality product. I hate it when I get complaints about a product that I promoted, so I only promote stuff that I really believe in. That means that a product has to have top-notch quality for me to promote it.

2. A personal connection. If a product owner takes the 30 seconds needed to check in with me personally, that tells me a lot about who I am dealing with. Just a simple email asking me if I need anything or how things are going (or a thank you) is huge.

3. Surprises in the US Mail. I know it sounds silly, but getting a small surprise gift in the mail is awesome. I don't know why, but the few times that has happened to me, it has impressed me and made me want to work harder to promote the product.

4. Great affiliate materials. Let's face it. We are all very busy. If it is easy to promote something, I am more likely to do it. Great affiliate materials also tell me that the product owner is serious about the product. Swipe blog posts are my favorite affiliate tool.

NicoleNicole Dean of .. here! .. says:

Well, I could go on about this all day long (as some of you know who've heard me speak about this topic in person). 🙂

Here we go.

Affiliates are BUSY, BUSY, BUSY.
(Did I mention Busy, yet?)

This means that you have to get their attention in some way, first. And, it also means that anything that you ask them to do has to be quick and painless for them.

The first part is getting their attention. This can be a huge feat in and of itself.

First let's touch on the fact that there are two types of affiliates and, while valuing both types, you'll focus differently on each.

1. The Experienced (Big time) Affiliates: Personal Attention. Give them Your Time.

Since you're busy, too, and have a life, you'll want to focus on spending your one-on-one time with the bigger affiliates. The Super Affiliates or Mid-Range Affiliates are established in your market and have lists or a sizable audience in some other way — RSS readers, a membership site, an active forum, etc. You focus individual time on them.

If you're focusing on someone like a Lynn Terry or Connie Green, it's all about the relationship that you're nurturing. Don't think you can hire an affiliate manager to connect with them. It will NOT work. (Coming soon… “Why you probably do NOT need an Affiliate Manager and What You Do Need Instead.” Stay tuned for that.)

They normally don't open your mass affiliate emails and won't go to your affiliate center. I do say this with love because I fall into the “more experienced” group, obviously. 😉

2. The Less Experienced Affiliate:  Help Them, but with Group Time.

That doesn't mean that you ignore your less experienced affiliates (ie. small potatoes). You just nurture them differently and usually focus on spending your “group” time with them. You communicate with these affiliates through your group mailings or your lists and on your affiliate blogs. In an ideal world, it would be nice to be able to spend lots of time individually with these guys and gals, there just aren't enough hours in the day. So, to best help them, create tools and training that they can study and use to succeed.

These are the types of people who you're setting up your affiliate center for — and who will actually log in to see what you've got available. They're the ones who'll open and read your affiliate mailings.

Like I said, both types of affiliates are valuable and important. However, you've always got to know which type of affiliate you're trying to motivate. Because it's completely different both ways.

So, my #1 tip for motivating affiliates?

If it's your top affiliates that you're focusing on, then connect with them personally and offer to create a custom promotion for them, do a webinar for their people, run a big-time affiliate contest, or somehow take some work off of them while making them money. Make them an offer they can NOT refuse.

If you're working on motivating the masses, then stay in contact with them. Give them prewritten emails and articles and plenty of excuses to talk you up. Don't ignore them just because they're not successful … yet.  Show them you care and you'll have loyal affiliates at all stages.

Don't ignore your affiliate list. It can be just as profitable (and even more so) than your leads lists.

I hope this post has given some food for thought.


It’s Your Turn.

So, now, I’ll pose this question to you. Do you find it hard to motivate your affiliates? Most people do. Or do you have a trick or tip that you'd like to share?
I'd love to hear about it!

Nicole Dean

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Peggy Baron

    Well that was timely, Nicole, thanks!

    I especially liked what Mason said about looking at it from the point of view of the affiliate. As an affiliate, I like those 4 things too – especially surprises in the mail! 🙂

    I also liked Jeannette’s idea of lowering the affiliate payout. Thanks Jeannette!


  • Regina

    I had a hard time will my 1k plus affiliates BUT after jumping into Income CPR (and the 1st lesson), I don’t think that’s going to be much of a challenge from this point on. I don’t like the minimum payout either – it doesn’t motivate me so I’m sure it won’t motivate my affiliates either.

    Thanks ~ great post!

  • Nicole

    Agreed on all counts, Peg.

    I’ve been told that’s why I’m such a good Affiliate Manager. Because I’m also a successful affiliate so I can see things from both sides. Instead of complaining about my affiliates not doing enough, I’ve gone to them and asked what I can do to improve things or overcome an obstacle for them – so they WILL promote.

    Regarding payout, I actually don’t like to have a minimum payout at all. So, mine is always set to zero. Just my preference, as an affiliate. 😉 I think cash motivates people. So, the sooner they get their payout, the sooner they get the notice and think — “Oh yeah, I should promote her again!” Of course, I watch for self discounts (and reverse them) and watch for anything that could be fraud. I’ll hold suspicious affiliate commissions for awhile, if I view it necessary.

  • The Mom

    Hi Experts! Nice stuff! Good subject, Nicole.

    Okay, when I find a product that I want to promote, I don’t want to dig for my link, a graphic, etc. etc. I want everything in a bundle, easy to grab and go.

    That’s why I’m thankful for my peeps, Susanne Myers for her fabulous products, and Tracy Roberts for her fabulous tools. When Susanne launches a new product, Tracy is right there with an email full of goodies, including articles, graphics, and oh yeah, my affiliate logins! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to check my stats and forgot how to get there.

    Anyway, yes, I appreciate a good product, but also good tools, as they say, “delivered to your door”… or email. Thanks Ladies! And thanks Nicole for another great Expert Briefs.

  • Lexi Rodrigo

    For me, the number one motivation is a high-converting product. Of course, it has to be a good fit for my audience. But I’ve promoted products which I thought were a good fit, only to have promos bomb because somehow the sales page wasn’t good or for whatever other reason.

    When that happens, it’s very discouraging for me. I can presell, pre-condition and set the stage for buying all I want, but if the sales page is poor, then both the merchant and I miss out. Not to mention my audience, who miss out on a potentially great product.

  • Angela Wills

    I’ve been so guilty of completely neglecting my affiliate program! But of course hanging around Nicole has me snapping to my senses about that, lol. You think I’d know better having been an affiliate manager And owning an affiliate management product…

    Anyway I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Income CPR topics.

    I also agree about the 0 payout. I won’t promote companies that have a payout limit and I feel having one is like telling your small potatoes they don’t count. I remember when I first started getting serious about affiliate marketing and earned $50 in commissions that just sat and sat because the payout was $100. I never did get it and I never promoted again – I felt unappreciated for the work I put in to get those sales.

  • Aurelia Williams

    This is a great email! I for one can do a much better job with being more personable with my affiliates and making more of a connection with them to help to inspire them to promote the products/services. I have great affiliate materials but I can totally see where I can make a better “personal” connection with my affiliates.

  • Jessica

    I like how Mason took the view point of the affiliate. I love when product owners make everything easily accessible including themselves. I love to promote Tiffany Dow and Nicole’s products because if I ever have a question I know I will get an answer from them. I also agree with the others that the payout minimum turns me off.

    Nicole I really like the idea of helping the less experienced affiliate marketers. I know product owners are super busy but helping those of us that aren’t making the big bucks goes along way.

  • David

    Sorry to be a nay-sayer, but …

    I can’t figure out what all of these “big-time super-affiliates” are busy doing other than “copy – paste – click Send’ on their promotions.

    They don’t seem to evaluate the products they promote.

    They rarely write their own promotional copy.

    They seem to parrot whatever they’re told with no regard to its accuracy.

    To be sure, it’s a LOT of work setting up an email using copy-and-paste with some text from the Affiliate Center into AWeber and clicking the Send button. (NOT!)

    I’m saying this based on the fact that the vast majority of promotional emails I get are all the exact same UNEDITED promotional copy. If there’s one that even looks mildly interesting, I’ll wait to get a few more promoting the same product, then use the link from someone who looks like they DID actually look at the product or software and DID write their own copy and DID make an effort to inform me BEYOND what they got from the sales page and the canned copy.

    Another approach I see is where some folks write informative articles on some topic, then stick in a few one-sentence references to products with an Aff link to it, like “That’s why I really love this new product from my friend Joe: xxxxx”.

    That’s effective with some readers, and it obviously works for some affiliates. But I always get the best response rates and conversions when I take the time to review something, play with it, and write up my experiences and opinions about it in my promo emails. I *NEVER* use canned promo copy! In fact, I get the absolute WORST response rates from canned promo copy.

    I guess it’s nice having 5-, 6-, or 7-figure lists (I don’t). But if you’re simply using copy-and-paste promotional techniques, you’re probably only getting a teeny-weenie fraction of a response rate that you’d get otherwise.

    I get that you may be “busy” in your life, but there’s a reason that people seem to care about what YOU have to say PERSONALLY — and I assure you, it’s not because you’ve mastered the “copy-and-paste promotional two-step”.

    Some would say it’s short-sighted by NOT giving my affiliates canned copy to use. But for most of my products, I don’t want people to use “blind” promotions — they invariably lead to much higher refund rates, and only marginally higher sales.

    In my case, my returns are proportional to the amount of time I spend actually examining a product and describing my thoughts and insights to my readers. Perhaps that’s just based on the relationship I’ve built with them.

    It also means I’m not very likely to promote something that I have not actually looked at, unlike most promoters these days.

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